Dr. Susanne Freeborn

Dr. Susanne Freeborn
Bellingham, Washington, USA
November 06
Depends on the hour

Dr. Susanne Freeborn's Links

MARCH 1, 2009 4:33AM

Knowing Myself: List Part Four

Rate: 13 Flag

Mom Wrecks Our Car on a Mountain Road

Let me backtrack a little bit here.   I think that when this happened I was pretty small, about four or five years old.  Since it involves the geographic area where my grandparents lived and my memory of those hills, I know I was pretty small and I don’t think we lived in San Diego quite yet.  This memory is a bit disembodied, scary, and left out of its time frame because it is for me, in a fragmentary part of my memory as well. There isn’t anyone alive who remembers it anymore, so I will just do my best here with telling the tale. 


Perhaps my mother was still working in the Pro Shop at the Camp Pendleton Marine Base.  That is the only reason I can think that we would have gone there at all.   I know she worked there for a while, and that she met my youngest sister’s father while she was there.  He used to call me Pumpkin and I remember him as a very kind and funny man who took us to the beach and held my hand as we walked in the shallow waters.  But this was something that happened in December.  There was a big party at Camp Pendleton, with a Santa for the kids, the Marine Corp Band, cake and I think some presents.  Mom took Sally and I to the base for the festivities.  I don’t really remember the drive to get there, it is the drive home that is burnt into my memory like an Old West branding iron.

Camp Pendleton North, CA map

I think she drove from the base over through Highway 76, to Bonsall, then across the cattle guard onto West Lilac Road as it wound around the hills where some years later I would ride the school bus home.  The road was a series of “s’ curves and hairpins that wound around the curvature of the mountains and hillsides that dropped down slowly and then steeply to the San Luis Rey River bed.  There were only two lanes and a sharp drop off on the down hill side of the road, where the earth travelled through dry creeks and narrow canyons.  I vaguely remember sitting in the back seat with my sister, with my shiny patent leather Mary Janes and lace edged white socks jutted out in front of me.  I don’t think I was watching the road.  We were singing Christmas songs as we wound our way to the Williams Ranch, where our grandparents lived and cared for 29,000 laying hens, two cows, a small citrus orchard and a one acre garden.


Suddenly, the car crashed into something, I think a boulder,  and went airborne; the car rolled off the side of the road and somehow stopped short of travelling to the bottom of a ravine, hung up just in view of the road, clinging to an outcropping of the black and white speckled granite that was common there.  It seemed that my mother was ejected from the car while it was still on the road, perhaps when it went airborne, and as I sat there crying, hiccupping, screaming I saw her there, lying unmoving, but I was trapped somehow, terrified that someone was going to run my mother over, killing her,  right there where she lay in the road, not moving.  My little sister screamed and cried along with me.  It seems like it went on forever, and then we were on gurneys in the emergency room, the screaming was over, but not the hiccups, and they had my mother with a mask upon her face laying on a gurney.  It was loud in there.  There was a lot of shouting of words that I didn’t know.


I don’t remember the Christmas that followed that car wreck.  The memory of it is obliterated in a wash of other Christmases at the ranch.    I think the next one I was in first grade and got a blue two wheeled bicycle with training wheels, and a new baby sister named Sharon that was born in July.  Before the New Year, I ran down a weasel that was running out from one of the chicken houses, and I remember screaming then too, as I ran across it with the big wheels and one of the training wheels, as if I had killed it.  I never really knew, because it ran brokenly down into the ravine off the side of the dirt road never to be seen near the chicken houses again.




 First Installment Knowing Myself-Post 1

Second installment Knowing Myself-Post 2

Third installment Knowing Myself-Post 3

Fifth installment Knowing Myself-Post 5

Author tags:

family, belief and religion

Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
I had almost the exact same thing happen to me as a child except my mother was knocked unconscious from hitting her head on the steering wheel. The front wheel of the car was over the edge of the ravine.

I'm glad you were all ok.
No one wore seat belts back then which surprises me that anyone over 40 years old is still alive now.

What a horrifying story! How can anyone not remember such an incident even at such a young age?

And the 76 is notorious for such accidents late at night and during the rain because of the curvature of the road.

The story towards the end is powerful because there is that huge scream and then silence and then a turn into 'normal' life.

And for me that's where the after effects of the accident still ripple throughout like in a deep, cold lake and one stone is tossed in the middle. The ripples may disappear from view but they're still there for ages to come.
Thank you to each of you.

Luis, as the story continues you will see that you are on to something with your comments... I bet Natalie may have a similar perspective too.
I was riveted by your account of this accident. Thankfully, you survived. Well done!
I had lost track of this series but am back with it again. Some hard things here. Glad there was the fun at the Camp before the horror. But they never balance, do they?

I love your stories. I can't imagine the "trapped in the car" situation. It must be one terrifying memory even after all these years. You've got courage to talk about it.
I must spend time reading you. Anyone who reads Emerson?
And anyone else who enjoys Hildergard, of Bingen. O Beauty.
The essay 'Politics' by R. Waldo Emerson should be read by
Your back pieces too. and so I'll read them too. If everyone on Capital Hill read 'Politic' they would Not be so demented. They
soon will be mistaking Madame N. Pelosi and H. Reid for Mr. & Mrs. Parmesan Hard Cheese? Or, Feta? Holy Swiss? Tuna and Mackerel? Mr. & Mrs. Eel? Halibut? Predatory Little Guppies.
Soon the gang on Capital Hill will act like a herd of baby sheep?
Kin goats?
Sheep and goats
are having babes,
baa baa, keva`lam.
'um a bunglers. bad.
no respectable, Kaaba.
Capital Hill's vipers den.
The story is intense and terrifying, but it's your images that made me cry (and get a bloody nose, thankyouverymuch!). That blue bike just broke my heart.